Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Having spent the best part of a year writing my memoirs, I spent most of the summer trying to put them out of my mind. On a brief holiday in the Isle of Lewis, catching lobsters and catching up with friends, I stopped thinking about it. You can consider it part of a rehabilitation package for recovering ministers. I learned to use an iPad. I even appropriated my wife's Kindle, and read my first e-book: The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes. At a table in the glorious Auberge guesthouse in Carnish, on the coast of the Outer Hebrides, it wasn't hard to put away politics and economics.

Now, at the close of summer, work comes back with a bang, or at least a ring of the doorbell, heralding Lesley White from the Sunday Times, which is serialising the book, and our old friend Murdo Macleod, the Hebridean photographer. He took the pictures of me three years ago to accompany a notorious interview in which I warned we might be facing the worst downturn in 60 years.

The reaction brought the forces of hell down on my head. It turned out the PM believed it would be over in six months.

As it transpired, my prediction was a bit on the bright side.

The morning after, I head down the A1 alone. The car is packed with giant meringues and Mediterranean vegetable tarts. There's no room for Margaret, my wife, who I've just seen off on a flight south, at the same time waving goodbye to our daughter Anna, who's going to an American university for a year. There's time to reflect, driving down the glorious coastal route, before a pit-stop at an excellent farm shop and cafe, Sunnyhills at Belford. I note Noah, the llama, is still for sale, and briefly consider buying him for the friends I'm visiting at the weekend.

But he wouldn't fit in the car, so I buy a packet of Paradise Slice cakes instead.

My Blackberry has begun to ring again incessantly. The publishers fear bits of the book have been leaked. Newspapers and television journalists are calling for comment. As a Cabinet member, the phones never stopped, and the silence I enjoyed over the last year has been golden - but I'm going to lose it again, at least for a while. My phone is ringing as I drive, and I explain I can't do an interview while on the motorway. It might end in the sort of pre-launch publicity that I don't need. …

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